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High school football: Playoff previews

POSTED: November 18, 2010 8:15 p.m.

White County at Grady

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Grady Stadium, Atlanta

Coaches: White County, Tommy Flowers; Grady, Ronnie Millen

Records: White County (9-2, No. 2 Region 8-AAA); Grady (10-1, No. 1 Region 5-AAA)

Key players: White County, QB Cole Segraves (6-4, 200 So.), WR/RB/DB/KR Ashely Lowery (6-2, 205 Sr.), LB Adam Hooper (6-0, 265 Sr.). Grady, RB Marcus Caffey (6-1, 188 Sr.), WR/DB Damian Swann (6-0, 175 Sr.), DT Dijon Elder (6-2, 305 Sr.).

Outlook: White County defeated LaGrange 28-20 last Friday in their ninth game this season which has been decided by two touchdowns or less. Grady, on the other hand, defeated Gilmer 48-0 and has won seven games by 48 points or more.

The large difference in scoring could be explained by the quality of competition.

The Warriors have faced teams with a combined winning percentage of 57 percent, while the Grey Knights’ opponents are at 43 percent.

The Grey Knights are led by a defensive back/wide receiver Swann.

He is ranked the fifth best player in the state, according to Rivals.com, and the 57th best senior prospect in the country.

Caffey is ranked by Scout.com as the 57th ranked running back in the Class of 2011.

White County sports its own Division-I college-bound player in Lowery, who is heading to the University of Kentucky.

The senior has 1,198 yards and 22 touchdowns on 172 carries this season and was instrumental in the Warriors’ win against LaGrange.

With Segraves noticeably limping on White County’s last drive, Lowery stepped into the Wildcat formation and led the team down the field. On fourth-and-goal at the 1-yard line, Lowery took the direct snap and plunged into the end zone for what would prove to be the game winner.

The running back finished the game with 151 yards and three touchdowns on 20 carries.

Despite not being involved on the last drive, Segraves finished the night 4-for-12 passing for 116 yards and a touchdown and also pounded out 35 yards on 13 carries.

Flowers said that Segraves would be starting tonight.

The two teams do not share a common opponent.

Prediction: GRADY. Too much speed and too many playmakers for White County’s defense to slow down.

Gainesville vs. Cedar Grove

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: City Park, Gainesville

Radio: 1240-AM

Coaches: Gainesville, Bruce Miller; Cedar Grove, Ray Bonner

Records: Gainesville (10-1, No. 1 Region 8-AAA); Cedar Grove (8-3, No. 2 Region 5-AAA)

Key players: Gainesville, LB A.J. Johnson (6-3, 234 Sr.), QB Deshaun Watson (6-1, 170 Fr.), RB Devon Pierce (5-7, 185 Sr.). Cedar Grove, WR/DB Vincent Dallas (6-0, 180 Sr.), QB Jonathan McCrary (6-2, 170 So.), LB Antonio Stewart (5-11, 210 Sr.).

Outlook: The play of an inexperienced secondary was one of the biggest concerns for the Red Elephants entering this season, and while the unit is limiting opponents to 70.5 yards per game, it really hasn’t been tested this year.

That will change tonight.

Led by the trio of McCrary, Dallas and wide receiver Rashad Ponder, the Saints have amassed 2,866 yards and 24 touchdowns in the air this season.

Dallas, who is verbally committed to the University of Tennessee, is the Saints most prolific offensive playmaker and has 779 yards and seven TDs on 38 receptions.

Ponder is second on the team with 738 yards on 39 receptions.

Gainesville’s secondary is anchored by senior Mike Norman, sophomore Fred Payne and senior Kendrick Millsap, who leads the area with six interceptions. Payne has four interceptions on the season, and had three INTs against Johnson early this year.

Look for the Red Elephants to continue its versatile playcalling on offense, and with Pierce (672 yards, 10 TDs) and Markece Robertson (523 yards, 10 TDs) in the backfield, Gainesville will utilize its potent rushing attack to set up the passing game.

The Red Elephants have perfected that formula this season, and although the Saints are only allowing 67.4 passing yards per game, Watson (1,961 yards, 17 TDs, 6 INTs) is more than capable of exploiting the defense.

The freshman signal caller has plenty of options in the passing game with Stephen Mason (24 catches, 457 yards, 5 TDs), Michael Lorentz (27 receptions, 478 yards, 7 TDs) and Tray Harrison (24 catches, 430 yards, 2 TDs) all capable of turning a short pass into a long touchdown.

Cedar Grove’s defense is anchored by Stewart, who leads the team with 132 tackles, and Tyrus White, who has 93 tackles and a team-leading 18 sacks. The Saints have a total of 47 sacks this year but allow an average of 154.1 rushing yards per game.

Prediction: GAINESVILLE. The ability to run the ball will keep Cedar Grove’s offense off the field and lead the Red Elephants to the quarterfinals.

Flowery Branch at Kell

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: C.J. Kell Stadium, Marietta

Radio: 550-AM

Coaches: Flowery Branch, Lee Shaw; Kell, Derek Cook

Records: Flowery Branch (10-1, No. 2 Region 8-AAAA); Kell (11-0 No. 1 Region 5-AAAA)

Key players: Flowery Branch, QB Austin Brown (6-1, 195 Sr.), WR Logan Conley (5-11, 175 Jr.), LB Jacob Allen (5-11, 205 So.). Kell, RB/DB Brian Randolph (6-0, 190 Sr.), QB Austin Petrik (6-1, 185 Sr.), DL Kole Wernowsky (6-0, 195 Sr.).

Outlook: The winner of this second-round Class AAA playoff matchup advances to the state quarterfinals — the Falcons are Region 8’s No. 2 seed, and the Longhorns are the No. 1 seed from Region 5 — to play the Griffin-Statesboro winner.

The Longhorns run their offense out of the spread shotgun and lineup two running backs in the backfield. Randolph leads the team with 807 rushing yards and 14 touchdowns on 112 attempts, and has 387 receiving yards and five touchdowns on 15 catches. Juniors Gaines (728 yards, five touchdowns) and Jordan Chambers (151 yards, three touchdowns) complete what Cook refers to as the backfield’s “three-headed monster.”

Petrik, who has rushed for 389 yards and six touchdowns, is just as effective as a passer. He has thrown for 1,490 yards, 14 touchdowns and no interceptions, while completing 96 of his 150 passes.

Most of Kell’s offensive playmakers are two-way starters in the Longhorns’ 4-4 defensive scheme.

Randolph — who is committed to Tennessee — leads the team in tackle (135) and interceptions (4). Chambers is second on the team with 107 tackles. Wernowsky has nine sacks and Jordan Dwyer has six.

Also out of the shotgun spread, the Falcons are led by Brown, who has 2,447 passing yards and 24 touchdowns to two interceptions on 163-for-251 passing. Conley (54 catches, 1,026 yards, 12 touchdowns) is the leading receiver, followed by junior Casey Osborne (47-701, 12). Feature back Jeremy Haley, a junior, has 1,403 yards and 18 touchdowns on 203 carries.

The Falcons’ eight-man defensive front is led by senior Kyle Famiano (123 tackles), Allen (108 tackles, three sacks) and senior Matt Tiller (73 tackles, three interceptions).

Prediction: KELL. The Longhorns have played a tougher schedule to better prepare them for this game. While the Falcons were limited to an 8-AAAA schedule, the Longhorns opened the season with wins against three Class AAAAA opponents.

Callaway at Buford

When: 7:30 tonight

Where: Tom Riden Stadium, Buford

Coaches: Callaway, Pete Wiggins; Buford, Jess Simpson

Records: Callaway (8-3, 3rd Region 7-AA); Buford (10-1, 1st Region 6-AA)

Key players: Callaway, RB Marquis Terrell (5-8, 160 Sr.), FB/LB Albert Trammell (5-10, 230 Jr.), QB Ricky Parks (6-3, 210 Jr.). Buford, RB Seon Jones (5-9, 178 Sr.), TE/LB Dillon Lee (6-4, 228 Jr.), DE Rick LeGrant (6-0, 202 Jr.).

Outlook: An early season stumble against top-ranked Carver-Columbus notwithstanding, Buford remains Buford.

That is to say, the Wolves remain dominant on both lines of scrimmage, committed to the running game and sound on special teams. That’s the formula that has led to 11 straight quarterfinal appearances, and it’s the one they’ll use to try to make it 12 in a row tonight.

Buford, which scored a season-high 52 points in a 30-point win over Hart County last week, has found good depth and balance in the offensive backfield this season, led by Jones’ team-high 819 rushing yards (7.8 per carry). Fullback Dominique Swope is second on the team with 532 yards (8.7 per carry), and Eric Barr is a proven home-threat averaging 16.4 yards per carry.

When they choose to pass, the Wolves can rely on senior quarterback Alex Ross. The two-year starter has thrown for 1,324 yards and 14 touchdowns this season with only two interceptions.

Paris Head (18 receptions, 321 yards) is his favorite target, while Lee has converted eight of his 11 receptions into touchdowns.

Defensively, the Wolves are just as balanced.

Defensive ends LeGrant and Kurt Frietag (6-5, 235) lead the team with seven and five sacks, respectively, while Lee is among the team leaders in tackles and has picked off a team-high four passes.

On the season, the Wolves give up just 82 rushing yards per game, and 2.9 yards per carry.

David Petroni leads the special teams, converting six of eight field goal attempts, 94 percent of his extra point attempts and averaging 35.5 yards per punt.

For Callaway, success starts with Terrell, who has rushed for close to 1,500 yards for the second consecutive season.

He’s also the team’s leading receiver with about 500 yards accounted for in the passing game. Simpson praised the Callaway attack for its versatility and explosiveness.

“They’re hard to stop,” he said. “They’ve got so much speed, and they’re big. I mean, they look big — scary-looking.”

Parks is in his first season operating the Cavalier offense after playing tight end as a sophmore. A threat to run or pass out of a multiple-set offense, he’s accounted for a combined 1,300 yards this year.

Jeffrey Cameron, the team’s top tackler, leads the Callaway defense with more than 100 stops. The Cavaliers average 35.2 points per game while yielding 15.4. They outscored Rockmart 27-0 in the second half last week to earn a 30-8 win.

Prediction: BUFORD. The Wolves are just hitting their stride and appear bound for another berth in the state championship game.



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